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2010-11-29: They did WHAT?

Test Tube Terrarium

Quick links from the past week of experiments in the World Wide Lab

Cultural changes allow magazine to experiment: Talks about the merging of Newsweek and The Daily Beast. I love this thought, made popular they say by "Ralph Waldo Emerson and other lesser lights" who offered audiences recipes for self-improvement: The man and woman of character, they said, must possess a well-furnished mind. Further,

To be respectable, it is necessary to spend your leisure time sampling the great masterworks of culture. To fight off the grubby materialism of American culture, it is necessary to be conversant in philosophy, theology and the great political events of the wider world.

The writer goes on:

About a generation ago, this earnest self-improvement ethic came under attack. People no longer believed that there was such a thing as a common culture that all educated Americans should study and know. The new ethos valued hipness, not class.

Tim Burton's Cadavre Exquis Twitter Experiment: The movie director is using his Twitter-based site to solicit story ideas from followers. Actually, it goes beyond that:

Cadavre Exquis or "Exquisite Corpse" is a technique used to collectively tell a story. Each contributor adds to the story in sequence, building on the last line revealed.

Nokia Amazing Product : Touch Screen From Ice: I can't resist: Talk about a cool user interface.

Ask a Chef: Learn to experiment: The chef answers a question about waste and mistakes with cooking. Very Think, Try, Learn:

  • Don't be afraid
  • Finally, just do it and have fun.
  • Never get caught up in a recipe. You can improvise, add, substitute something else.

Apple Pie Lab Experiment #1: Hey, It's Not That Hard After All: In another food-related experiment, here's a gal who really got into the Thanksgiving spirit through experimentation. I love how she made explicit her own mental myths.

In the Beginning, the Universe Was a Liquid : Discovery News: physicists at the Large Hadron Collider "have discovered the Universe acted like a fluid in the moments immediately after the Big Bang."

CSIRO experiments with 'no email' day: Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is trying a switching off email for an entire day, with the idea of motivating people to try alternate (and more effective) communication modes. These include Twitter, telephones, and face-to-face conversation. While this is becomming more common for organizations, I'd like to hear more about how they intend to make it truly an experiment. What variables are they controlling for? What are they measuring? How will they use the results?

Prostitution in Canada: On the brink of a social experiment?: It's hard to imagine a more controversial experiment. Maybe prohibition?

Palin, Gingrich Wrong About American Exceptionalism: A nice write-up of perspectives through US history on the "great American experiment," George Washington said warranted a "full and fair experiment."

Our Turn At The American Experiment : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture. I love this quote:

Democracy is always a leap of faith, an act of reason and a game of numbers. Most importantly, democracy is always an experiment in the most fundamental, and most scientific definition of the term. Like every well constructed experiment, you can not know what will happen until it does happen.

Clenched Muscles Assist Self-Control: Scientific American Podcast: People who clenched a muscle were able to increase their will power in a series of tests.

Why "Magical Thinking" Works for Some People: Scientific American: Defines superstitious behavior and magical thinking: the belief that an object, action or circumstance not logically related to a course of events can influence its outcome. The result was surprising; participants who were in the presence of their charm performed better. This is possibly because they reported setting higher goals and demonstrated increased perseverance. The bad news?

The influence of the charm depends crucially on your belief in its inherent powers. Once you acknowledge that performance is a function of what goes on in your brain rather than a product of any mystical properties of the object itself, it becomes useless.

The latest offbeat experiment from filmmaker David Lynch: pop singles: I like his attitude: "I started experimenting with music. I'm not a musician, but I love to experiment and try to make music." Don't forget, the verb for making music is "to play." Reminds me of The Vienna Vegetable Orchestra, who make their own instruments. For every performance. A little about them here: Video: 'This is our world: the acoustics of vegetables'. Don't take it too seriously, though!

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